"Is this seat taken?" I asked, stopping by the empty seat near the back of the bus. I didn't think it was but it couldn't hurt to ask. The guy who sat by the window looked up at me and barely nodded. This being New York, I took that as an OK, slid my carry-on bag into the overhead compartment and settled into the aisle seat next to him. He seemed like the type I could not trust with anything important so I assumed that he was safe. After all, it's the trustworthy looking types that fool you into complacency, right?
It was going to be a long ride to San Francisco but I was actually looking forward to it. Time wasn't an issue and money was so this was the only way it was going to happen. Besides, I haven't seen much of the country and I'll see a lot of it now, for sure.
Thinking that I have seen a lot of New York (and not wanting to see much more!), I dozed off almost immediately. I can't remember much of the dream I was having, but something woke me up to find 'Mr. Untrustworthy' with a paw on my breast.
"I'll give you two seconds to move your hand before I start screaming and beating your fucking head against the window." I said it loudly and noticed at least a dozen heads turn our way. I expected him to say something stupid like, 'Why? You asked me to', or something. But, he must have seen the murder in my eyes because he moved it right away without saying a word and I decided not to raise more of a fuss.
"Next stop, you either move or get off the bus," I said evenly. He just stared at me but I thought he got the message. Next stop, nobody got off the bus so there was no place to change seats to. I stood up and quietly said, "Get up."
He didn't even try to protest. He simply stood up and left the bus. The couple in front of me turned around and smiled, I smiled back, and took the window seat just vacated.
"That was a pretty gutsy thing to do," the man said while his wife(?) nodded.
"I've taken a few subways in my life. A bus is easier," I answered to both of them. "I guess that's why I'm headed out of New York!" That was a lie but they wouldn't know and it was what they wanted to hear, anyway.
"Well, I'm proud of you," she said. I got a good look at her and realized that she was very pretty. Short, lightly curled black hair framing a round, pleasant face, with generous lips and dimples. I broke away from staring at her, tried to appear nonchalant, and responded:
"Thanks," was all I could say and her husband cleared his throat.
"Oh! I'm sorry! My name is Nancy," as she reached over the back of the seat to shake my hand, "and, my husband's name is Bob."
Bob looked like he was about 45 years old but he was handsome with salt & pepper hair, a ruddy complexion that reminded me of the 'Marlboro Man', and a curious smile that seemed to look right through me. Actually, he did appear to see something in me...
"Hello," a deep voice that almost stunned me into stillness, "I'm pleased to meet you and I notice that you would agree with me about Nancy." He said this without the slightest bit of self-consciousness and with a very knowing manner. I couldn't even think of a lie to say. But, Nancy, bless her, responded for me.
"Bob! You know that's not nice!" and, to me, "Bob has a rather interesting 'gift' but doesn't know when to keep it wrapped." She smacked him in the shoulder but his eyes never left me. I thought I'd be able to stay silent but, damn it, he spoke again: "It's all right if you don't want to say it but it's fine if you do."
There was no way I could keep from answering. I felt it like a urge. "Yeah, Nancy is nice and I do agree with you. But, how could you know I would even say something like that? You don't know me. I might have 'gone ballistic' just hearing you say that. Oh, and by the way, my name is Kelly." I wanted to be mad, indignant, anything other than comfortable with this stranger's casual and personal over-familiarity. But, try as I might, I couldn't work up even a tiny bit of annoyance!
Nancy reached for my shoulder and, while gazing at Bob said, "He doesn't mean any harm. It's just a deeper form of communication and Bob's got it down. And, this time, I'm sort of glad he did." She and Bob exchanged a look and I could almost see them talking without saying a word. No, Nancy was talking and Bob was listening. Suddenly, Bob got up and went to the bathroom at the back of the bus. Nancy had to get up to let him out of the window seat, but she didn't return to her seat; instead, she motioned for me to sit in Bob's. I only hesitated a second, then slid out of my seat and into the one directly in front. She only had the hint of a smile on her face as she sat beside me.
"Thank you!" she whispered to me with a big smile. "I wasn't sure you'd move, although I think we both wanted you to."
"Sure, I wanted to, but what about Bob?"
"Don't worry about it. Bob will sit in your seat when he comes back, at least until you want to go back to it." She said the last part with such obvious regret I had to cover a snicker. We sat there and looked at each other and the nervous laughter erupted in both of us. A couple heads turned but nobody seemed to see anything too unusual and went back to their whatevers.
Nancy told me that she would tell me all the boring stuff later but wanted to tell me the 'good part' now, before she chickened out.
"Kelly, Bob and I are happily married. I mean, 'it's all good', you know what I mean? Part of the reason why it's good between us is because we keep no secrets and trust each other completely. So, what I'm going to say to you is fine with him. Can I ask you a very personal question?"
This couple seemed to like asking a lot of personal questions! I usually shy away from anybody who takes an unusual interest in my life and this couple sure filled the bill. But I saw nothing but sincerity in Nancy's face (even though I pictured plenty more in her face...), so I answered truthfully.
"Sure, it's OK if you ask the question but be aware that I may not want to answer something too personal."
Drawing together all of her courage with a sigh, Nancy spoke quickly and quietly, "I want to...spend some time getting to know you. I think I would like you a lot and my husband says its all right, if it's fine with you. You don't need to worry about anything: we'll see that you get to wherever you are going 'on time', and, if you don't want him around, we can..."
"Wait, just a minute," I interrupted. She was almost out of breath and I was getting a weird feeling about this 'question'. Actually, I liked the weird feeling but, on a bus trip, with a stranger and her husband? I needed to get to the 'punch line' before I started freaking.
"Yes?" she asked, sounding more hopeful than she looked.
"Are you asking me if you and I can sleep together?" I asked.
"Yes, but you don't have to say 'yes' if you don't want to, and you can be with just me or with Bob, too, if you want. (Neither of us feels jealous or threatened by inviting you.) And, we will be very discreet...,what?"
I was smiling, now, and she saw my change of expression as my coming to a decision. I guess I had, but I was surprised to hear the words I said next.
"Nancy, is it because you want to be with me, or because you want your husband to see something?" I asked calmly.
"I want to be with you!" she said emphatically. "I've never been with a woman before (and I'm not saying that it looks like you like women!), but, I..."
"...need to find out if you'll like it?" I finished for her after she faltered.
"Please? Yes,...that's right, I... think...", she was running out of steam rapidly and there wasn't really a reason to keep her 'on the line' any longer.
"I want to be with you, too, but we all have to get together and talk. If that's ok with you and Bob, we'll see what we might be ok doing together."
Nancy's face lit up like Times Square at sunset, she gave me a quick (and discreet) hug, and silently screamed, 'Yes!' which brought a big smile to my face, too.
"Wait a minute. Where's Bob?" I asked, even as I looked over my shoulder and saw him peering out of the window of my abandoned seat.
"He'll be just fine back there until we tell him to move; I've got him trained pretty well!" Nancy said with staged amusement. We both raised an eyebrow and broke up laughing. She told me about their lives, their bus trip, their plans for the future. I listened with interest and even a bit of envy, but I told her little of importance regarding my life. I offered bits of information about my family, my job, my goals in life, but never too deeply to let her know much of substance about me. If she noticed, she didn't say, and we chatted for hours.
Nancy finally unsuccessfully stifled a yawn and said she'd need to sleep. I was shocked to see that it was now fully dark outside the bus and most of the people around us were reclining in their seats and probably already asleep. And, a quick glance at Bob confirmed the same. Nancy gave me a hug, laid her seat back and closed her eyes. I can't relax comfortably with a lot of people around me so I left my seat up, as before. (Is that why Bob stayed behind me instead of staying behind Nancy?) Pondering that possibility, I dozed off. My dreams, this time, were rather 'friendly' but I awoke suddenly, again. This time, it was Nancy's head in my lap, her seat righted, and sound asleep. A woman returning from the restroom past us just as I was looking up.
"It's good to see you traveling with someone, now," she whispered with a motherly smile. "I saw what happened to you earlier and this is much safer, honey." A smile was all I could think to do or say and she smiled back as she continued on to her seat. I looked back down at Nancy's soft, dark hair and smoothed it a little, lightly caressing the side of her face a bit, too. She roused a little but dropped off again quickly. I couldn't have been happier and sleep captured me again.
* * * * *
When I awoke again, it was early morning and Nancy was sitting beside me, looking at me.
"My! You had a pleasant night's sleep!" she said cheerfully. I was barely able to agree before the call of the restroom became a higher priority. When I returned, I saw Nancy leaning over her seat, close to Bob. They didn't appear to be talking and kissed just before I walked up.
"Bob, I guess you'll be wanting your seat back now," I said trying to be as tactful as possible.
"At least until our first rest stop," he agreed, as he slid out of my seat and politely offered it to me. I sat down and watched the passing landscape brighten outside of the bus. Bob took the aisle seat with Nancy (who glanced back over her seat and mouthed a 'thank you' to me) and we traveled on until we reached the next bus terminal in some tiny town (in what state?) and disembarked for breakfast.
Nancy, Bob and I went to the small diner together and had a fun time talking about a lot of trivial things. When Nancy got up to go to the restroom, I almost left with her but decided that, if Bob was a sleaze, this was a good time to find out. He barely glanced at me but caught me looking at him and smiled naturally, comfortably, and went back to eating. I raised an eyebrow and decided that he just might be an ok guy after all.
We finished our breakfast and walked around a bit before returning to the bus. Just as we started to go back, Nancy turned to me and gave me a small kiss on the cheek, linking arms with me on her left and Bob on her right. I looked up at her (she was about three inches taller than my 5'5") and we exchanged a penetrating moment. It was then that I knew that I wanted to hold her close to me and I'd do exactly that if given the opportunity.
We traveled on for miles, though, without talking about anything very much. Bob and I sometimes exchanged places while Nancy and I talked. We talked easily enough but she never brought up the subject again and I was too uncomfortable to do it myself. Lunch and dinner stops that day were nice but uneventful and I was beginning to worry if I'd lose the chance to be close to her. Finally, when she went to the restroom after dinner on another stop, I turned to Bob and started to ask him if something was wrong. That was going to sound really lame and I was trying to come up with another approach quickly when he spoke first:
"It really is a new thing for her and she's much more nervous than she knows how to deal with. I'll help her talk to you but it may take a little more time. If we miss the bus departure time tonight, will you trust me to get you where you need to go, on a later bus, a train, or a rented car to catch the train again?"
"Yes." I felt like I knew these people now and I wasn't the slightest bit worried. I was completely aroused, though! Bob called the waitress to our table as Nancy returned and ordered us all drinks. (Bob never asked me what I wanted; he just ordered the only drink that I ever drink: rum and Coke. I started to say something but he shook his head slightly and I just graced him with an eyebrow.)
Thirty minutes and four rounds later, Nancy was plastered. Obviously not a drinker, she was able to talk fairly well but her giggles were chronic and completely infectious! We finished dinner with tons of jokes with good humour and took our usual 'after meal walk'. We wound up on a bench by a small stream that ran through a tiny park.
"Kelly?" Nancy said with a bizarre lilt to her voice caused by the alcohol.
"Yes, Nancy?" I answered, copying her lilt.
"Yes, Nancy." I was fighting laughter with everything I had because this was it: now or never, and if she started laughing, too...
"Yes, Nancy?" still copying her lilt. Bob, who was having as hard a time keeping quiet as I was, turned away to deeply study the interesting landscape on the other side of the park.
"We need to go to bed soon or I'll never do it."
"Yes, Nancy?" Bob is really losing the battle now and little noises are slipping out, forcing me to bite my lip.
"Will you sleep with me tonight?"
"Yes, Nancy." And, with that, Bob and I both surrender to gales of laughter. Nancy looked from me to Bob and back, completely puzzled. Then, realizing what I'd said, she grabbed both sides of my face and kissed me fully in the mouth. Bob turned to see why our laughter stopped and gently stroked his wife's hair until we separated. That kiss was so loving and tender, laughter died away and we just sat there and enjoyed the moment.
Bob stirred first and led us back to the station (by now, sans bus, of course) and got directions to a local inn. Then he went to the lockers, produced two keys, and removed three carry-on bags: one was mine! How he knew it was mine, how and when he got it from the bus, how he knew I wouldn't be pissed that he did: all questions on the tip of my tongue. Nancy wasn't too drunk to see the shock on my face.
"Don't even think about asking about it. He does things like that all the time." I looked at Bob who offered no hints, shook my head, and went with them to our rooms.
Bob settled on a single room, though, with two full beds, very old but pretty furniture, a large claw-footed tub, and even a bouquet of wildflowers on the dresser. He opened his bag and started taking things out, preparing for a bath. Nancy and I did the same but allowed him to go first to 'warm up the tub'! He twisted his mouth ruefully but started his water and closed the bathroom door.
As soon as it was closed, Nancy turned to me, still wobbly from the drinks, and offered a slightly embarrassed smile. I returned it with a nod, and she almost flew into my arms. She hugged me and kissed me, stopping for a few seconds at a time just to stare into my eyes before returning her lips to mine or rubbing her cheeks against mine.
"We have to talk. Tell me what's good for you and I'll tell you what's o.k. for me," she said and we did. I don't know how we did it; talking about sex with strangers is not taught in any class I've ever heard of but we did talk and, when Bob was through bathing, he and Nancy hugged but didn't exchange a word. I'm certain that they 'talked', though, because he smiled, kissed her, and, with a flourish, offered the pre-warmed tub and steamy bathroom to us.
We bathed together, slowly exploring each other by washing each other's body, stopping now and then to kiss, to caress.
Finished, we dried off, and Nancy turned out the light. When our eyes were accustomed to the dark, we opened the door and entered the other room where Bob was (asleep?) in the bed closest to the door. Nancy went to him and kissed him. He didn't move so I'm not sure if he was awake or not. She then came back to me, took my hand, and led me to the other bed. She stood beside it as I pulled back the quilt and sheets, slid into it, and, reaching for her hand, brought her into my arms.
We made love every way imaginable and she brought me as much pleasure as I brought her. We tried to muffle our cries of ecstasy at first. Then, when we were sure that Bob was awake anyway, we enjoyed each other with complete and utter abandon: crying out, moaning, laughing, whispering requests, sighing with their answers.
Sometime before dawn, Nancy held me tightly, kissed me one last time, and joined her (still awake!) husband. And, I watched as they mated slowly and lovingly, regretting she wasn't with me, but fascinated to see lovers doing the most that can be done for each other, completely in sync, completely in love.
* * * * *
We missed breakfast but got a late lunch and waited at the station for the next bus. We sat as close as lovers sit, except that we were three: Nancy in the middle with Bob on her left and I on her right, as close to her as she was to him. We boarded the bus and, when there were no two seats available close to each other, we asked two strangers to move together so that we wouldn't be far apart. They looked at us and, without any objections, sat together so that we would never be more than one seat away from each other. And, until we reached their stop (and, to this day, I don't remember where it was), Nancy and I spent most of the time together, quietly holding each other, while Bob sat or slept behind us.
I actually got off the bus with them to say our goodbyes. My biggest surprise being the big hug and kiss on the cheek that Bob gave me before I re-boarded. Nancy's hug was full of joy and she kissed me, (again, fully on the lips) before whispering in my ear, "I love you, Kelly."
"I love you, too, Nancy." And, climbing back on the bus, I took my seat and waved to them from my window as I rode away.